John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia April 9. 1796
My Dearest Friend
The H. of R. have not yet determined— The Question is to be calld up on Monday— But the opposition who now call themselves the virtuous Majority, will endeavour Still to postpone it.
It is now avowed by Mr Bond, the British Chargé D’affaires that the Surrender of the Posts is suspended upon the determination of the H. of R. and who could expect it would be otherwise?1
I have read “The Ministers” dispatches from London. The King could not help discovering his old ill humour. The Mad Ideot will never recover. Blunderer by Nature, Accidents are all against him. Every Measure of his Reign has been wrong. It seems they dont like Pinkney— They think he is no Friend to that Country and too much of a French Jacobin. They wanted to work up some Idea or other of introducing another in his Place: but our young Politician Saw into them too deeply to be duped— At his last Visit to Court the K. passed him without Speaking to him, which you know will be remarked by Courtiers of all Nations. I am glad of it: for I would not have my son go so far as Mr Jay and affirm the friendly Disposition of that Country to this. I know better. I know their Jealousy Envy Hatred and Revenge covered under pretended Contempt.2
I am so fatigued and disgusted with the Insipidity of this dull Life that I am half a Mind to vow that if W. dont Resign I will. The Old Hero looks very grave of late.
However there is a high Probability that I am upon my last Year of public Life, for if there should not be a Choice by the People I will not suffer a Vote to be given for me in the H. of R. I will never Serve in that high and Responsible situation without Some foundation of People to stand on. If I should be chosen V. P. only by a Plurality I will refuse. in short there are so many probable Cases in which I am determined to retire that the Probability of it is upon the whole very strong. indeed I feel myself to be a fool to serve here at all.
I am glad you can cast off the fret upon your Mind— You recd Some Post Note soon after the date of yours of 28 of March which enabled you to face your Creditors and gave you more Courage I hope.
The Walls in Curtis’s Pasture must be built, or Burrells Corn will not be safe—
Cleopatra ought not to be fed too high— she should have no Grain—only Hay.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “April 9th 1796.”
1. On 25 March Lord Grenville informed Phineas Bond that the Treaty of Greenville, for which see JQA to CA, 30 Dec. 1795, and note 4, above, contradicted free trade provisions of the Jay Treaty. Bond delivered a memorial to the U.S. government stating that Great Britain would not evacuate its posts in the Northwest Territory until it was agreed that no subsequent treaties would impede free intercourse and commerce as established under the Jay Treaty. On 4 May 1796 Bond and Timothy Pickering signed an explanatory article to be included in the Jay Treaty. George Washington submitted the article to the Senate on 5 May, and it was approved by a vote of 19 to 5 on 9 May. On 1 June George Beckwith, adjutant-general of Upper and Lower Canada, sent a general order for commanders to evacuate the northwestern posts; by 11 Aug. all British posts in the Northwest had been presented to American forces (Joanne Loewe Neel, Phineas Bond: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1786–1812, Phila., 1968, p. 139–140; Amer. State Papers, Foreign Relations, 1:551–553; Miller, Treaties, description begins Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, ed. Hunter Miller, Washington, D.C., 1931–1948; 8 vols. description ends 2:346–348; U.S. Senate, Exec. Jour., description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1789– . description ends 4th Cong., 1st sess., p. 207; Robert S. Allen, His Majesty’s Indian Allies: British Indian Policy in the Defence of Canada, 1774–1815, Toronto, 1992, p. 84).
2. The dispatches to Pickering in which JQA described his time in London were dated 14, 15, 27 Nov. 1795; 5, 15, 19, 22 Dec.; and 1, 20 Jan. 1796. There JQA described his audience with George III and Britain’s negative view of Thomas Pinckney, whom the English believed to be too pro-French, preferring to deal with JQA instead. JQA wrote that the British government and press consistently (and incorrectly) referred to him as the minister plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James. After he refused to acknowledge the new title, he noted his subsequent snub by the king at a levee (LbC’s, APM Reel 130; MHi:Pickering Papers, 20:96–97, 118–119).
3. JA had also written to AA on 7 April discussing the House of Representatives’ debate on the Jay Treaty, giving AA agricultural advice, and forwarding two letters from JQA, possibly those of 1 and 7 Jan. (all Adams Papers).